500 comments, & I’ll go Vegan for a year.

Via on Dec 26, 2011

Why should I go Vegan in 2012? #NewYearsResolutions

I’m going vegan, maybe. And using the consideration over the next few days to inspire a respectful consideration for our whole mindful community. I’ll decide based on comments, on New Year’s Day. ~ ed.

Growing up, I ate meat—until I was four, or something, and I realized the cute pigs and other animals I was reading about in children’s books were what I was eating on my plate. That’s gross, and mean, and crazy, I thought!

I became vegetarian for two weeks.

Fast forward 10 years or so and my Buddhist practice of tonglen (compassion meditation, you could call it) and my newfound passion for environmental responsibility (started by the fun, simple book 50 Ways to Save the Planet) led me to eat and enjoy less and less meat. The changes in my diet weren’t particularly inspired by compassion for animals—it was more about eating mindfully, and appreciating what I was eating, and only eating meat when I knew where it was coming from. This was around 1995.

In 1999, I was barely eating meat, ever. My then-girlfriend, a lifelong vegetarian, moved in, and I casually offered to only eat meat out, since separating the pots and pans and cutting boards and all was a bit of a hassle. Overnight, I wound up, rather inadvertently, becoming a full-fledged vegetarian for the first time in my life. Why? Well, I’d been hardly eating any meat, anyways. I never got pepperoni or sausage on pizza, since I didn’t know where it hailed from (almost certainly a factory farm, and I wasn’t down with ordering torture for dinner). Most helpfully, my gf didn’t proselytize…she just ate healthfully, and showed me how (which is key: many folks who “try” veganism just take the meat out and then wonder why they feel weak). Instead of looking for meat substitutes, which rarely compared to the real thing, she ate a wonderful, delicious diet full of protein. At 185 pounds, very active (bicycling every day, etc) I felt just as good as always.

I’ve been vegetarian ever since, and it’s been easy. I don’t really think about it, and the few times I’ve been offered meat and accepted (once by my Buddhist teacher, as a sort of prank) it’s tasted like flesh, not the yummy meat I remembered. I no longer want it. Sure, bacon still smells good, but so might bbq’d human or dog or horse, and we wouldn’t eat that if it smelled nice, would we?

Day to day, I’m just about vegan. Have been for some time. I don’t eat meat, of course, and I don’t use milk for anything (I switched to Americanos or black coffee, leaving behind dry capuccinos, with the encouragement of some of my vegan frenemies a year ago). The only time I eat dairy is when cheese, for nachos, or Ben & Jerry’s ice cream. I’ve tried all the vegan ice creams, and they don’t cut it. Not nearly. At least, not yet.

So, I ask you: why should I go vegan in 2012?

I have slow food friends who’d rather see me eat meat again mindfully, and appreciate the best of foodie culture. I myself have been turned off by some of the aggression in the vegan community, and hesitate to join their ranks. But my conscience is more important to me than any of that. Why should I eat dairy? Does eating mindfully produced dairy or meat help change an industry more than abstention? Can conscious consumerism make the dairy and meat industries kinder than going vegan, where you’re removing any incentive for said industries to get more gentle and responsible?

Also, Michael Pollan, Joel Salatin and others (see here for my interviews with them) say that if everyone went vegan, there would be no domesticated animals left at all. If we didn’t have an incentive to keep cows and goats and chickens and even buffalo around, they’d be gone. Poof. Most vegans say, well, that’s fine. These are breeds not intended to live in the wild, anyways. Still, that seems complicated: vegans shrug shoulders at the prospect of losing millions of acres of farmland and millions of animals (though I understand they live miserable lives).

So I’m looking for comments, for or against, or middle of the road.

Whatever you think. Why should I go vegan? Why shouldn’t I? What’s a good (truly) vegan ice cream? What’s a good vegan cheese (I’ve been buying almond for some time, and am impressed—they work for nachos! Not so sure about pizza).

If we get to 500 comments (for and against both count, to aid the spirit of mutual respect and conversation)—our most-comments-on-one-blog-ever on elephant is 488—I’ll go vegan for a year. And write about the experience, which should involve many more readers in this vital contemplation. If all goes well, I’ll stay vegan.

Why so many comments? Because I’d like to use my path, here, as an instigator of conversation for as many of us as elephant’s diverse community can reach to figure out how to live responsibly, with joy, and with minimal aggression and prejudgment at others. Any disrespectful, personal comments to anyone will be deleted, and won’t count toward the total. Leave a comment. One word is enough.

Help this conversation get out there. Share this to your Facebook wall, or email it to your list, or tweet this (hashtag #mindful to share with other elephant readers).

The deadline is, of course, New Year’s Eve, at midnight, when I’ll be emceeing at BMOCA.

Bonus >

Peta’s 10 Reasons to go Vegan.

elephant’s 5 tips for making the Vegan transition.

PS: Pigs are cute. Pigs are also smart.

About Waylon Lewis

Waylon Lewis, founder of elephant magazine, now elephantjournal.com & host of Walk the Talk Show with Waylon Lewis, is a 1st generation American Buddhist “Dharma Brat." Voted #1 in U.S. on twitter for #green two years running, Changemaker & Eco Ambassador by Treehugger, Green Hero by Discovery’s Planet Green, Best (!) Shameless Self-Promoter at Westword's Web Awards, Prominent Buddhist by Shambhala Sun, & 100 Most Influential People in Health & Fitness 2011 by "Greatist", Waylon is a mediocre climber, lazy yogi, 365-day bicycle commuter & best friend to Redford (his rescue hound). His aim: to bring the good news re: "the mindful life" beyond the choir & to all those who didn't know they gave a care. elephantjournal.com | facebook.com/elephantjournal | twitter.com/elephantjournal | facebook.com/waylonhlewis | twitter.com/waylonlewis | Google+ For more: publisherelephantjournalcom

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450 Responses to “500 comments, & I’ll go Vegan for a year.”

  1. Nixx says:

    Go Vegan! It's super easy, and fun, and makes you feel amazing!! The animals will thank you :)

  2. rendies says:

    Go Vegan because its the right thing to do!! "The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated." ~ Gandhi ….or just watch Earthlings if you need a real nudge!!

    • elephantjournal says:

      Love that quote. Think it includes all those without power…the sick, the homeless, the hungry, the poor.

  3. Nicole says:

    As a healthy vegan of 15+ years, I support you! There is little more that you could do better for yourself, your fellow earthlings, and the planet!

  4. rendies says:

    Gandhi, Albert Einstein, Coretta Scott King, Martin Luther King, John Salley, Thom Yorke, and Scott Jurek are all amazing examples or vegetarians and vegans with incredible quotes on how wrong it is to exploit animals for pleasure. They have to be on to something with all that brilliance.

  5. Chris Zahka says:

    man vs nature: the road to victory. Seriously though, go vegan all the way!

  6. Emily says:

    Vegan is the greatest! Do it!!! :)

  7. Katie says:

    Yay for Vegan!!!!

  8. Linda says:

    I have been a vegan for 8 months. I don't have any vegan friends. Would like to see you go vegan so I can read your bog and follow your journey as a vegan.

  9. Maia says:

    Right thing to do. You already know it!

  10. Jane says:

    Go for it! You'll feel *so* much better for it, both physically and mentally :)

  11. Homa says:

    The more real food you eat, the better everything tastes. I hope you choose to eat cruelty free because you want to. We have food allergies on top of being veg so just being vegan sounds so easy to me. Good luck!

  12. Nancy Pennington says:

    Just DO it! (Go vegan). Stop harming animals and your own body/life. Please watch "meet your meat" before you decide. Animals suffer unspeakable torture for giving up their lives for your appetite. Good luck.

  13. Claudine Erlandson says:

    Going Vegan, C'est la Vie for All! I have no doubt about that!

  14. JBM says:

    Have fun! I've been vegan for 12 years for ethical reasons.

  15. Becky says:

    Research published in 2010
    Diet and prostate cancer risk with specific focus on dairy products and dietary calcium
    Raimondi, et al
    Division of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, European Institute of Oncology, Milan, Italy.
    "We found a twofold increased risk of prostate cancer associated with an increased intake of dairy products. In conclusion, this study supports the hypothesis that dairy products, especially milk, are involved in the etiology of prostate cancer."

    Here's more evidence-this research was published in Sept 2011:
    Egg, Red Meat, and Poultry Intake and Risk of Lethal Prostate Cancer in the Prostate-Specific Antige
    "Men who consumed 2.5 or more eggs per week had an 81% increased risk of lethal prostate cancer compared with men who consumed less than 0.5 eggs per week (HR: 1.81; 95% CI: 1.13–2.89; Ptrend: 0.01).

    Therefore, we prospectively examined total, unprocessed, and processed red meat, poultry, and eggs in relation to risk of lethal prostate cancer (e.g., men without cancer at baseline who developed distant organ metastases or died from prostate cancer during follow-up) among 27, 607 men followed from 1994 to 2008. We also conducted a case-only survival analysis to examine postdiagnostic consumption of these foods and risk of lethal prostate cancer among the 3,127 men initially diagnosed with nonmetastatic prostate cancer during follow-up. In the incidence analysis, we observed 199 events during 306,715 person-years. Men who consumed 2.5 or more eggs per week had an 81% increased risk of lethal prostate cancer compared with men who consumed less than 0.5 eggs per week (HR: 1.81; 95% CI: 1.13–2.89; Ptrend: 0.01).

  16. Suzanne says:

    Go vegan! As many above have said, it’s the best thing you can do for yourself, the animals & the planet. The dairy industry is abhorrent in both animal cruelty & food safety issues & humans weren’t built to digest milk from cows, just from other humans. ;) And in addition to Daiya “cheese”, Follow Your Heart Nacho flavor is great & there a number of vegan nacho sauces on the market these days. Can’t be Coconut Bliss vegan ice cream IMO.

  17. Sara says:

    China Study, Daiya cheese, food inc, soybeans, compassion!!

  18. Tara Pike says:

    I vote that you do it! I have been a vegan for two years (vegetarian since 1996). I wish I would have done it SOONER! I am attempting a MOSTLY raw vegan diet this year. I will eat raw all day and have a cooked dinner (and occasionally a raw dinner). I have never blogged, but maybe I will for this raw adventure! Do it! I am positive you can do it! :)

  19. Stacey says:

    I have been vegan for over a year (vegetarian for many) and now it feels like the only choice. It is good for your body, but it is also good for your soul, and the collective soul of the planet. We do not need to murder to sustain ourselves. Nor do we need to torture and humiliate other beings. I know it sounds preachy, but it is just a statement of fact. If you do commit to the year, please open your mind to making the change internally to do it for life. My husband (a former devoted meat-eater), read some of the vegan literature and listed to my reasons and 'tried it' for a week, but he has been vegan for 10 months now and has no intention of going back. My children (17 and 10) are mostly vegan (I let them choose and sometimes they want ice cream,) but totally vegetarian. The youngest mostly struggles with making the conscious connection between the veal and dairy industries, but is 100% on board with not eating meat. And since she is ten, her ability to make that connection is not fully developed. Good luck!

  20. Shelley says:

    Just do it! You'll forever be glad you did! It's the right thing for your body, for the planet and for the animals.

  21. Gianna says:

    I vote yes, go Vegan…however, this is a little hypocritical of me and I can admit that, as I am just a vegetarian. I will be a vegan one day though,…more power to you if you are, mucho respect for you!!

  22. Prenna says:

    I'd recommend trying veganism for one year to see how it affects your practice of Tonglen. Veganism can be a direct expression of the compassion of such practices. Removing oneself from involvement in the meat and dairy industry can lessen our attachment to the cycle of life and death. Who knows, you might see some spiritual benefit.

    I could have listed a whole bunch of other reasons such as health, ethics, the environment, and all the usual issues but thought you might find a spiritual argument of interest.

  23. Janie says:

    You must try Coconut Bliss – chocolate flavor. Beats all dairy ice creams hands down. Really. After years as a vegetarian, I went vegan last April and won't be going back. There are so many wonderful foods to eat!

  24. Chris says:

    I say definitely go vegan. When I do, I never become ill, as dairy creates nasal congestion. I feel better when I don’t eat dairy. I have been a vegetarian for more than 24 years, and wish you well in your journey.

  25. Rebecca says:

    I’m doing it! Try it!

  26. kitty jones says:

    why would you need comments to make such a wonderful decision. you know about the issues, you know the right thing to do. stop supporting animal suffering and give veganism a try. shouldnt matter what other people have to say about it. going vegan was the greatest decision i've ever made. changed my life.

  27. Sara says:

    You may ask me why I'm vegan. I will respond by asking you to research what veganism is about, then tell me why you're not.

  28. Michael B says:

    Go raw vegan bro, so much nicer for you

  29. MissAyssa says:

    I think its a wonderful idea… and I would love to hear about your year long journey into veganism!

  30. Katherine says:

    I hope you do go forward with this decision, then decide to make this a commitment for beyond your 1 year time frame. You will be helping the planet, the animals, and yourself. Check out my website for some amazing and delicious raw, organic, (and vegan) nut butters!
    http://www.ethicalbounty.com

    Proud to be among the 500!

  31. tiff the badass says:

    fun with food!!! Yay!!!

  32. lindsaymcclure says:

    yaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!!!! i hope you do it regardless :]

  33. Marthayogi says:

    Welcome to the dark side!

  34. Shannon says:

    I’m going vegan in the New Year as well!:) Good luck!

  35. Monique says:

    Becoming vegan is a wonderful idea. I'm a vegetarian transitioning into a vegan. I eat mostly raw food. The only animal product I eat would be honey. The raw food world is something everyone should get into. The benefits are wonderful and truly are a miracle.

  36. Rubi says:

    Go vegan! The reasons outweighs what people may say!

  37. Cali says:

    Go vegan! For your health! For the animals! For the planet!
    Happy munchin’

  38. Jess says:

    Absolutely changed my life. Go for it – what do you have to lose?

  39. Gayle says:

    Do it for your immune system!

    Dairy is terrible for you. I used to have at least one sinus infection per year. Since I went vegan ten years ago, I haven't had a single one. I'm also crazy regular and never get sick even though I teach high school!

    The people who say being vegan is unhealthy are deluded.

    Daiya is great cheese for pizza and I like the Soy Decadent Coconut milk ice cream. I think almond milk is the best!

    Good luck!

    • elephantjournal says:

      Soy is not good for us, and not good for the planet…and results in many animal deaths when rainforest is clearcut for more soy, no?

  40. groovecookie says:

    do it!!

  41. Meredith says:

    Anything that seems like a good idea and feels good and right is worth trying.

  42. Emma says:

    I’m what I call a “loose pescatarian”. I’m from a southern family, so when I go home, there’s a lot of meat in everyone’s food. It’s hard to sustain yourself on a vegetarian diet. I guess I’m not that committed but I try to consume as little meat as possible because it’s a luxury. A vegan lifestyle is very admirable and I wish you the best!

  43. elcastleberry says:

    I'm a "loose pescatarian", hopefully on my way to veganism. Inspire me!

  44. Barb says:

    More power to you. I haven't gotten past vegetarianism.

  45. Amy says:

    Do it! :D I’ve been vegan for over 2 years and I love it. Daiya cheese is amazing, tastes just like the cheese I remember. You might want to just do the one year or you may find you love it as much as me, but I think you should give it a go regardless.

  46. Betty says:

    best advise is try new dishes!! experiment and make your favorites vegan. only eat what makes you happy.

  47. 8erica says:

    Do it! this was the best decision I have made for my health and I feel more spiritually authentic given how much I love animals. For those feeling like they can't go all the way – just try it, it is easier than you think…especially when you realize that dairy really includes puss and mucus…

  48. juliet says:

    Absolutely, go for it, you won't look back

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